Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Magical Firearms

This story about the boy who accidentally shot a little girl in daycare is horribly tragic. The fact that she was shot in the arm will certainly help. I hope that he's young enough that this will not ruin the rest of his life. But, from what I've read about his father, whose gun this was, there's not much hope for this kid. It's sad that at such a young age, there's so little ahead of him. That, I think, because the girl was not killed or more badly wounded, is the biggest tragedy of this whole thing.

That dismal view, however, is not what this post is about. This post is about the way the Associated Press writer decided to phrase certain parts of this story.

"The boy had the weapon in a backpack and was playing with it when it went off, said Montgomery County police spokesman Derek Baliles."

Notice my quotation marks are around the entire sentence, with no single quotes around what the police spokesman said, according to the writer. That means that the writer isn't quoting the spokesman, but paraphrasing him. I would like to know what the actual quote is, but without being able to find that, I will assume that the words "it went off" are the writer's.

Did you know that guns are magical and go off all by themselves when children are playing with them? No, of course they're not. That poor child may have accidentally pulled the trigger, but the gun didn't just go off. I know they may be trying to spare him the responsibility of shooting the girl by saying the gun went off, instead of that he accidentally pulled the trigger while playing with the gun - or that he accidentally shot the girl or he accidentally pulled the trigger. But since reporters are supposed to report facts, that's exactly what this reporter should have said.

People are understandably afraid of guns, but why do they need to instill these objects with special powers like going off by themselves? Guns can be intimidating; they are powerful and dangerous in the wrong or in careless hands. People should treat them with great respect and focus. But don't be afraid of the gun, be afraid of the felon who owns guns illegally and leaves those loaded guns out where his eight year-old son can find them and take one to school. I guess it's just easier to be scared of the gun.

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